"Christ offered salvation, and not an easy life": How do port chaplains make sense of providing welfare for seafarers? An idiographic, phenomenological approach analysis.Int Marit Health 2016; 67(2):117-24IM
The shipping industry has historically leaned towards a biomedical model of health when assessing, treating and caring for seafarers. In recent years there has been more concern for the mental health of seafarers in both the academic literature and the commercial world, however, the psychological and emotional well-being of seafarers still largely falls on the shoulders of the port chaplains. The aim of the study was to explore how port chaplains make sense of providing welfare for seafarers by taking an idiographic, phenomenological approach (IPA).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Six male participants working as chaplains in United Kingdom ports took part in recorded face-to-face, semi-structured interviews covering three areas of questioning: role, identity and coping. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and data analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Three super-ordinate themes were identified from participants accounts; "We walk a very strange and middle path", "Exploited" and "Patching up". Rich data emerged in relation to the personal impact chaplains felt they made, which was facilitated by the historical role of the Church; this led to the second super-ordinate theme of how chaplains felt towards seafarers. Lastly, the analysis demonstrates how chaplains adapt to the limitations forced upon them to provide welfare, and a degree of acceptance at the injustice.
Results were discussed in reference to theoretical models, including self-efficacy, empathic responding and the transactional model of stress and coping. Chaplains in ports perform their role autonomously with no input from healthcare professionals. Recommendations are made for a biopsychosocial model of health involving primary care, benefiting the health and well-being of seafarers and providing support and guidance for port chaplains at the frontline of welfare for seafarers.